Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Jason Bloomberg, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Linux Containers, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security

Agile Computing: Blog Feed Post

Linux is Not the Answer to Security Problems

There’s nothing specific to the operating system here: it’s all about the browser and deception

Malicious links served up in a browser are OS agnostic. They don’t care about the OS because the target is people, not technology.

In response to the problem of links and trust put forth in a recent post a reader replies that the answer to “evil links” is simply to run Linux instead of Windows.

the very best solution is to run something other than windows, and with ubuntu at its current state of maturity (and free-ness), why wouldn't you?

I won’t disagree with the assessment of Ubuntu and its current state of maturity. It’s very nice, and I’m enjoying it immensely on my new laptop for a multitude of reasons and Don and I have always insisted that our children run a Linux distribution on their laptops just to minimize the impact (on us to cleaning up) of automatically downloaded and installed viruses and trojans. And the commenter is partially right – running a Linux-derived operating system will indeed protect many users from the automatic installation of many OS-specific (read: Windows) targeted viruses and worms. But it’s not the answer to the problem of malicious content a la links because most of the time the target of the content isn’t technology, it’s the user, and it isn’t relying on an operating system, it’s relying on a browser. And unfortunately, users aren’t going to change their behavior because they’re running Ubuntu or a Mac or Windows or an iPhone.


WEB 2.0 and CLOUD CHANGED THE GAME


One of the great things about standards in the browser like CSS and JavaScript and XHTML is the ability to create a rich and interactive user interface and have it consistent across operating systems and browsers. With the increasing reliance on “cloud-based services” for e-mail, personal document management, photo storage and generally any consumer-oriented use of a computer that used to be associated with a fat client now being pushed out to “The Cloud” the browser is the primary interface between the user and the rest of the world

If that interface can be, and it is all the time, leveraged by miscreants to manipulate users into providing their credentials or unknowingly assisting in the spread of links and code that can accomplish the same then the operating system upon which that browser is running is neither an advantage or a disadvantage.

And that’s exactly what’s happening. The benefit to miscreants today is in identity theft; in obtaining credit card and personal information that can used or sold for monetary gain. The old “destroy your computer” viruses of the 1990s are passé and not in vogue. Today it’s about theft, plain and simple, and almost all viruses that are distributed are done so in the hopes of accomplishing that task. “Viruses” today are keyloggers and applications that turn consumers’ desktops into part of a giant botnet that is performing mass SQL injection attacks with the intent of injecting a link that will entice a user to willingly hand over their identity.

And because it’s well-known that the Web is the Way, miscreants have turned to attacks that target the browser and the trust inherent in hyperlinks, in the visual clues that users take that engender trust like, say, the logo and design of the website. Clickjacking and cloning-based attacks are predicated on the ability to exploit the trust users have for a web site. If it looks like Twitter, or Facebook, or My Banking Institution, then it must be that site. Overlaying a “virtual keylogger” using clickjacking or cloning the site and using a domain name that includes the relevant site name in it is enough to convince a user that they are indeed on the site in question and certainly it must be safe to enter their credentials.

And from that one set of credentials the rest of the integrated, collaborative Web 2.0 world is opened to the miscreant. One set of credentials begets another and if they’re lucky enough to get your web-based e-mail credentials well, it’s like finding a pot of gold at the end of a digital rainbow.

With the exception of trojans and viruses designed to act as part of a larger botnet, there’s nothing specific to the operating system here: it’s all about the browser and deception. MacOS? No problem. Ubuntu? Great. Windows? Don’t care. This is social networking engineering at its finest: manipulating the trust of a user through the same rich interface technologies that have made the operating system irrelevant.

Comes the cloud and now trojans and viruses become even less relevant to the game. Given someone’s credit card and identity a miscreant could easily leverage cloud computing to accomplish what the end-user now will not. Move every consumer to an Ubuntu desktop and miscreants will simply find another way to launch their botnet, and that way likely leads to the cloud. Scalable, on-demand, self-service. It’s a miscreant’s dream


THE PROBLEM IS NOT TECHNOLOGY BUT THE SOLUTION WILL BE


The problem of links and the potentially malicious intent behind them is not one of technology in the traditional sense. Yes, technology is being manipulated to enable the use of links as a deceptive theft mechanism, but technology – whether guns or screwdrivers or clubs or lockpicks – have always had both good and bad uses. The intent of the wielder is always at the root of the issue. The problem is two-fold; first, it’s financially advantageous to miscreants to perpetrate such attacks and second, users are still woefully uninformed about phishing and pharming and avoiding the deceptions inherent across the Interweb today. There doesn’t seem to be much we can do about the first part of the problem and addressing the second is a never-ending battle.

Unfortunately, that’s not due to a lack of trying on the part of information security advocates. Trying to explain how to spot some of these deceptions to a typical consumer is like trying to explain to me how to tell the difference between the sounds a car engine might make when it’s in trouble. You can try, but I likely won’t “get it” or be able to put it into practice. It seems simple to you and I because we’re knee-deep in technology day after day. But for someone who just wants to get their e-mail and post a photo on Flickr and update their Facebook status…it actually is rocket-science and it is that complicated.

The solution will likely eventually be found in technology, it always is, but it won’t be as simple as a change in the operating system because that variable has been largely neutralized thanks to Web 2.0 and “The Cloud.”

Follow me on TwitterView Lori's profile on SlideShare friendfeedicon_facebook AddThis Feed Button Bookmark and Share

Related blogs & articles:

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...